Health DG: Situation very worrying as ICU occupancy reaches 104%

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The occupancy rate at intensive care units (ICU) in hospitals nationwide has exceeded the maximum capacity, rising from 96% in May 24 to 104% on June 6, said Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah.

The Health Ministry director-general said the situation now is “very worrying” as not all patients needing critical care can be placed in ICUs.

Noor Hisham said hospitals nationwide are seeing a surge in Category 4 and Category 5 cases with serious symptoms. Many of these cases also require oxygen and respiratory support, especially those who are elderly and with comorbidity issues.

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“Such patients take a longer time to recover due to the serious complications from Covid-19,” he said.

“The Crisis Preparedness and Response Centre’s (CPRC) statistics show that the average time taken for treatment of a Category 4 patient is between 14 and 16 days, while for Category 5 patients, the treatment can last between 19 and 26 days.”

He also warned that despite the number of new daily infections being on a downward trend, the country is not out of the woods yet and the situation remains serious.

Noor Hisham said in addition to the danger of the virus spreading, ICUs are overstretched to critical levels.

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He warned that cases can increase if one becomes lax, even for a day.

“The situation cannot be taken lightly, especially if there are certain quarters disseminating false interpretations of the current situation,” he said.

As for non-ICU beds, meanwhile, there is an improvement as the occupancy rate declined from 99% to 89% within two weeks, while the occupancy at low-risk quarantine centres was at 54%.

He reminded the public to continue and observe the standard operating procedure (SOP), get tested when there is a need and sign up for the vaccination.

Meanwhile, positive cases declined by 2.6% or 1,379 during the 22nd epidemiological week compared to the previous week.

Noor Hisham said this was due to the movement-control order 3.0, which was imposed from May 12.

Active cases, however, continued to increase following the surge in cases reported in the 20th and 21st epidemiological week.

Active cases went up from 57,022 in the beginning of the 22nd epidemiological week to 78,017.

He said that although the overall number of cases declined by 2.6% on a weekly basis, active cases continued to rise.

The country had 82,797 active cases as of 12pm today. – TMI